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FORT WORTH, Texas — The old football adage says if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none.
Matt Campbell begs to differ.
The Iowa State coach has two quarterbacks – junior Joel Lanning and sophomore Jacob Park – he believes are good enough to play.
So he played them. Lanning and Park rotated under center throughout Saturday’s 41-20 loss to TCU, an unorthodox setup that Campbell swears he believes in.
“I think that’s a great situation, when you’ve got two guys you really believe you can have success with,” Campbell said. “Sometimes from the outside looking in you say, ‘Oh, man, there’s two quarterbacks,’ and you think that’s a bad thing. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing when you’ve got two guys who work really hard in practice and at least deserve the right to play.”
Campbell said Lanning will continue as the starter, but booth quarterbacks will play for the foreseeable future.
“We’ll continue to work in practice and see who earns the right to play and earns reps,” he said. “When you have competition, a lot of times that’s a good thing.”
Lanning started the game Saturday and was the more effective of the two. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 127 yards and added 31 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Park passed for 90 yards on 7-of-15 passing, though perhaps his best play, a 30-yard completion to Allen Lazard after he had escaped the rush, was negated by an offensive pass interference call against Lazard.
Lanning led the Cyclones to two touchdowns and a field goal in his eight possessions, while Iowa State scored only a field goal in Park’s six possessions.
Lanning said he and Park were told of the plan to alternate quarterbacks early in the week and both said they were OK with the arrangement, using the same phrase: “It is what it is.”
“It’s a lot like what we do in practice,” Park said. “Me and Joel are kind of in the routine of switching out. … I really feel like I can get the job done. … We’ve got to get it done the way we’ve got to get it done.”
Campbell said there was no set time to make the switch – “I don’t know that there’s an exact science to it,” he said – but as it turned out, the changes were made after every two series until the final minute of the third quarter, when Lanning replaced Park after one possession.
The switches didn’t necessarily go according to a “hot hand.” Park, for example, came into the game in the fourth quarter after Lanning had led a 67-yard touchdown drive.
Park also replaced Lanning at a key moment in the game. After Lanning followed his first TD with a three-and-out, Park took over when Iowa State got the ball back at its 11-yard line down only 17-7 with 3:48 left in the first half. Thanks in part to Lazard’s penalty, the drive went nowhere, the Cyclones punted and TCU scored a touchdown for a 24-7 halftime lead.
Lazard, running back Mike Warren and tight end Justin Chandler all said the change of quarterbacks didn’t affect the offense. But both Lanning and Park hinted that coming in and out of the game had the potential to affect their rhythm.
“Yeah, it helps to have a little rhythm going into it, but it is what it is,” Lanning said. “You’ve got to expect whatever. … You’ve just got to go out and play whenever your name is called. … You’ve got to get things going no matter what.”
Notes: Wide receiver Allen Lazard, who surpassed 100 yards in each of first two games, was held to one catch for 8 yards by TCU’s double-teaming secondary. He also left the locker room with his left foot in a walking boot, though he brushed off questions about it, saying, “I’ll be good.” Lazard said it wasn’t the result of anything that happened during the game. “It just hurts,” he said. … Kicker Cole Netten kicked two field goals to run his streak to a school-record 11 consecutive successful attempts. He now ranks second on ISU’s career scoring list with 230 points. … Justin Chandler became the first Cyclones tight end to catch a pass this season. He finished with 26 yards on two receptions, including a brilliant one-handed grab of a pass thrown behind him for a 20-yard gain.